U.S. Sen. Barack Obama

Ad Wars: Special

Most of this new ad from the McCain camp feeds viewers the usual tropes: Obama's just a celebrity, he's inexperienced, he's not ready to lead.  The really curious thing about the ad comes at the very end.  Take a look, then let's talk about it:



You notice what I notice? Just at the very end: "Barack Obama's not ready... yet."  Isn't that weird? The implication that comes with the "... yet," is that he will be ready, which seems like a strange qualifier to grant your opponent-- especially when your central argument against him is that he's not ready. Even if the line had just been "not ready yet," the impact would have been less, but that ellipsis really drives it home.

What do you think? Maverick tactic or nothing notable? Share your thoughts in a comment below...

Ad Wars: Compare

In a new ad, John McCain invites you to do a little forced word association. The weakness of this spot, much like some of his others, is that it's just colossally vague, at a time when Americans want more than random words and phrases thrown at them.

Pain! Risky! Proven! Rutabaga!

Ad Wars: Ladies and Gentlemen

Joe "The Vice Presidential Candidate" Biden is known for his big mouth, and when Barack Obama chose him as his running mate, the campaign was surely including in their calculations the good odds that Biden would say something silly before election day.  He did, and, all things considered, I don't think it was that bad. 

Still, the McCain campaign pounced on it, and cooked up this ad, which manages to make the prospect of an "international crisis" sound pretty scary. This, I would say, is a quintessential example of the use of fear as a political weapon.  A voter who's scared into voting for you is just the same as a voter who picks you for other reasons.



Ad Wars: Try this

Barack Obama invites you to try out his tax calculator and see how much you'll save under his plan.  I recommend it highly, especially if you make less than $250,000 a year.



Rooting for the Winner

Obama WinningThe press is pulling for a close election, and doing their best to report it as one, but all the indicators point to Obama continuing to widen his lead. With everyone expecting McCain to make a run, why isn't it happening?

My feeling is that it has to do with one of America's most cherished traditions: Love for winning.  Though most Americans might have favored John Kerry's policies in 2004, or Al Gore's experience in 2000, George Bush knew how to talk like a winner.  He looked like a winner.  He was confident and sure of himself. The same was true of Bill Clinton, and people gravitated toward him.

Since the conventions, McCain has looked increasingly like a guy who's about to lose an election.  He's nervous, he stumbles in his speeches, he looks awkward on stage, and his campaign is all over the place.  Obama, by contrast, looks ever more presidential. In the debates he was calm, cool, well-spoken and connectable.  He's acting like a winner, and everybody wants to be on the winning team.

This has created a positive feedback loop for Obama: The further ahead he gets, the more he looks like a president, and the more confident people become in his abilities.  I still think it's reasonable to expect McCain to pick up a few points in the polls, but most of America is now expecting-- and looking forward to-- a President Obama.

Ad Wars: It Gets Worse

The Obama campaign goes after the elder vote with this new ad, waging an ever-more intense attack on the McCain health care plan. If I were dependent on Medicare or Medicaid, I'd be spooked.

Ad Wars: Guilt by Participation

The RNC continues to hammer at Obama's past association with Weatherman Bill Ayers in a new ad.  There's no new information in this ad, only new graphics-- which, at times, are a little overwhelming-- and new headline clippings, which are, at times, a little hard to read.

Ad Wars: The Chicago Way

The assault continues, as a new RNC ad links Barack Obama to three "shady" politicians. Bill Ayers makes another appearance. Tony Rezko is a new face in these ads-- he was convicted of fraud and bribery earlier this year, and surely represents some of what is worst in politics. Obama has called his association with Rezko "a mistake." The third is William Daley.

As Big Bird would say: One of these things is not like the others.  

The other two are criminals, but Daley, as the ad says, is nothing more than "heir to the Chicago machine." Seems a little harsh to lump him in with the other two.



McCain Links Obama to Ayers in New Web Ad

The McCain campaign has put out a 90-second web ad linking Barack Obama to Bill Ayers, a domestic terrorist in the 1960s, and associate of Obama's. This is part of a broader recent effort by McCain and Palin to exploit some of Obama's relationships with characters who might be unsavory to the public.

The issue, according to the spot, is Obama's judgment and character.  But the ad as a whole suggests something different.  Like previous McCain ads, the mood is dark, with spooky music and a behind-the-scenes feel that makes the viewer feel as though they're being let in on a secret.  Clearly, the McCain campaign is trying to depict Obama as someone untrustworthy, menacing, and even dangerous.

What One Hand Giveth...

Traditionally, Republicans have headed their campaigns with talk about taxes.  Democrats, they say, will raise your taxes, so vote for us. The McCain campaign hasn't been any different.  What is different this time around is that Barack Obama's tax plan is dramatically better for middle-income families. Accordingly, Obama's been hitting back.

His latest ad, "Taketh," lays the truth on thick. While John McCain's rhetoric about "tax credits for health care" may sound good, Obama points out the fine print: McCain's plan will levy a tax on employee health benefits for the first time ever.

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